Eckehard Pistrick

Migratory Aesthetics – Critical Ethnomusicological Perspectives through a Biographical Lense


This presentation focuses on the concept of “migratory aesthetics” as constructed by Bal (2008) and Bohlman (2011). Based on ethnomusicological long-term research with musicians from Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and Burkina Faso in German reception centers, this presentation asks about the validity of this concept in relation to real performative practices, creative imaginaries and claims for cultural and juridical citizenship.

It also questions the relevance of the aesthetic in situations of humanitarian emergency and exclusion and in relation to the potentialities of integration. What aesthetics are considered as suitable by musicians and cultural policy makers for being displayed? How do strategies of integration interrelate with aesthetic choices? How does the brand “refugee-musician,” charged with notions of an “authentic affectivity,” becomes an effective label in the world music business?


Eckehard Pistrick is Professor in Ethnomusicology at the Gustav Mahler Private University in Klagenfurt, Austria. He served from 2017 to 2023 as an Assistant Professor at the Institute for European Ethnomusicology at the University of Cologne and Associate Researcher at the Centre de Recherche en Ethnomusicologie, Paris. He holds a PhD from the Universities of Paris-Ouest and Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and has extensively researched about music in Southeast Europe and music and migration. Additionally, he has worked as a curator, author and broadcasting editor in non-academic environments. Publications: “Dangerous Fields - Existentiality, Humanity and Musical Creativity in German Refugee Camps”, in Violence: An International Journal 2(1), 1-22; Performing Nostalgia - Migration Culture and Creativity in South Albania (Ashgate, 2015); Audiovisual Media and Identity Issues in Southeastern Europe (co-editor, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011).